The wind and the calm. The sun and the clouds. The road and the dirt. Hilly and flat. This weekend had it all and I was blessed to share it with great friends. Friday night I capped a 40 mile day on the singlespeed riding to Boulder and back. I woke up feeling fresh and loaded up my jersey pockets for a ride on the road.
The mountains looked brilliant and the wind was calm. I rode in the warming early morning sunshine towards Doug's house about an hour away.
As has been the usually lately, the warm tights have been replaced by thinner knee warmers. It's been a welcome change and along with it other signs of spring are in the air. The baby-moos are getting bigger, the birds are singing, the morning air is 10 degrees warmer and daylight savings time is now upon us.
Doug and I rode together from his house just on the east end of Boulder right on time towards Hygene. We were passed by one of many cyclists on the roads. Doug resisted the urge to chase him down, sticking to his high cadence plan. We soon determined he was doing intervals as we began to leapfrog back and forth. It didn't take long to roll into Hygene and find Erik and Michelle waiting.
Erik, Michelle, Doug and I rolled out to Carter Lake. Michelle was a bit tired having ridden the same route yesterday but she hung in there just fine. On the way out 3 other riders joined our small group for a little bit. After sitting in for a while they passed us and we continued on. Doug was riding strong.
Before we knew it, the climb to Carter Lake came and went. I felt great and my Ensure Plus's were going down easy.
The lake was beautiful despite the clouds that rolled in. The group rolled on with Doug, Michelle and I chasing Erik down the descent. My speedo hit 53.6mph. It hasn't cracked the 50mph barrier in a while.
The ride back the pace seemed to keep creeping up. We passed what seemed like and endless number of groups heading the other way. 5 riders, 25 riders, 3 riders. I've never been anywhere other than Boulder where there are so many people out riding on any given weekend day. As we passed one group riding particularly quickly, one rider was off the back. His name was Jeff and he was visiting from the Big Apple. He made the mistake of stopping for the call of nature while the group kept rolling and he couldn't bridge back up. He circled around and joined our group. The fearsome fivesome rolled on.
Michelle's miles yesterday were catching up with her but she pressed on. The group was all smiles anyway. The clouds blocked the sun but temperatures were still warm, the air was dry and it was relatively windless.
One by one the group separated. Erik and Michelle turned back to their house when we stopped in Hygene. I ate a turkey sandwich and the three remaining riders pressed on. Back into town we said goodbye to Doug at his house and I pointed Jeff back to his car on hwy 36 a few streets later. Some 70 plus miles into my ride I continued on alone. Other than dropping my water bottle into traffic in Louisville, the climbs came and went uneventfully until I passed over highway 36 in Superior. A fellow cyclist caught me up the Hump at a brisk pace. I hopped on his wheel but it was in vain. 75% of the way up the climb my mind got the better of my legs and I sat up, knowing I was now over 90 miles into the day and still had to climb the Wall. Happily the Wall came and went at an easy pace and I added a quick detour in my route to push the mileage to the century mark.
After the ride we had a great time at the retirement party for Jim, Marni's dad. Marni drove me there, allowing me a quick nap in the car and then drove us home. We were stuffed from all the food and cake and watched Sideways before heading to bed. I set no alarms, thinking I'd be awake easily in time for my late starting Sunday ride. I planned to repeat the Super Walker ride of several weeks ago on the Monocog.
Sunday morning came lazily at 11am, only 30 minutes from my planned departure time. Already mostly packed, I loaded my bike and Camelback and said goodbye to Marni and Turbo just after 11:30. The weather had changed down, sun shining but wind blowing. When I say blowing I mean steady at 25mph from the WNW, exactly my desired direction, with gusts to some 60mph. Unacknowledging to any omen I pressed on reguardless. My ride to Boulder was brutal with the wind trying anything in it's power to stop me. The wind is a special kind of punishment, invisible and unrelenting. Unlike a hill there is no top, no descent for a reward. It stopped me in my tracks several times and attempted to blow the bike out from under me dozens more. Yet I pressed on to Boulder, bought my sandwich and bagel from Einstein's and arrived at Chataqua park just before 1:30pm. Good thing I left 2 hours for the ride, despite it taking less than 1:30 on Friday night.
When I arrived, only David was there. We rolled up to the parking lot to check for others and throw away some trash. A minute later 3 more riders rolled up, followed by 2 more. I'm terrible with names so you'll have to forgive me but the group was awesome. Out of 7 riders, 6 were pushing only one gear on a ride promising 24 miles and 4500ft from Chataqua park alone. David pushed his 29er fixed gear with a 36x16! Animal! The group ascended Flagstaff, separating slightly to the first pulloff. We regrouped and continued on, up the steepest part, standing, mashing and willing our singlespeeds up the mountain. At the summit we regrouped and lost one rider. He had an appointment in town and headed back down. The wind was blowing again near the top, nearly toppling several of us over. David summited after we left and turned around, also having to return to work. The 5 of us pressed on to Walker Ranch, enjoying the brief descent. Just before the trailhead, the wind picked up something vicious. I slowed down into the gravel parking lot, trying to stop and get off and before I knew it I was on the ground. Surprised by the somewhat hard hit, the others made sure I was alright. Other than a bit of shock at being blown off my bike and a cocked stem I was fine. I dusted myself off and fixed the stem before heading out on the loop.
The group strung out and regrouped several times on the loop. I continued with an Ensure Plus every hour as my nutrition and felt pretty good. On the long climb after the hike-a-bike section I started to feel the long hours of the weekend in my legs. I pressed on with the others and before long we were cheering the last climb's appearance. The majority of the climbing completed and the site of a welcome porta potty sped my legs up the last few hundred yards. The shining sun couldn't overcome the chilling power of the wind and we all agreed that it was best to keep moving. We headed back out to Flagstaff road to begin the shorter but likely steeper climb to the summit. Feeling good again I powered on. I was happy to be back on pavement where my worn rear tire wouldn't slip, robbing me of a few feet of gain for power input as it did during the loop around Walker.
Stopping briefly at the top, I wolfed down my turkey and swiss sandwich. I was looking forward to it all day. I think the others were jealous but no one took me up on my offer to share it. Jackets now back on and food in my stomach we all descended back to Boulder. The shadows now shaded the switchbacks and it was pretty chilly. We were all happy to arrive back in warm and sunny Boulder. After some parting words and an agreement in the "that was fun we should do it again" catagory we split off in small groups. Still intending to ride back to my house I followed a fellow rider home to refill water bottles and get him a jacket. I called Marni from his house, only to find out that all my normal routes home were blocked. Apparently a fire, which we saw earlier from the climb up Flagstaff, had caused closure of hwy 128 all along my return route. Between that and the bad smoke in the area I decided to end my ride here. My friend graciously offered to drive me home and I accepted, thus bringing a close to 180 miles of riding in under 48 hours.
Feeling surprisingly good I arrived home to a happy Marni and Turbo. My wonderful wife went to the store to get us some food for the week while I showered and changed into my sweats. The rest of the night involved relaxing, stuffing my face with some delicous dinner and cookies, and preparing metally for the work week to begin. At least daylight savings time reminded us of it's arrival with a 7:30pm sunset. Tomorrow will be some recovery riding and a presumably busy day at work. My scheduled hill repeats will have to wait until at least Tuesday but I'm extremely satisfied in my training being able to ride so much this weekend without bonking or injury.